How to avoid width or height increasing or decreasing when margins, paddings, outline, etc. are applied to an HTML element?

Published June 30, 2021

To avoid the width or height getting increased or decreased when using CSS properties like margin, padding, etc, we can use the CSS property called box-sizing and set its value to border-box on the element in CSS.

TL;DR

HTML

<!-- div HTML tag -->
<div>Hello World!</div>

CSS

.myDiv {
  height: 100px;
  width: 200px;
  background-color: red;
  padding: 20px;
  box-sizing: border-box; /* add this */
}

For example, first let's make a div HTML element tag with content Hello World! inside it like this,

<!-- div HTML tag -->
<div>Hello World!</div>

Now let's add a class name called myDiv so that we can reference this div in CSS. It can be done like this,

<!-- div HTML tag -->
<div class="myDiv">Hello World!</div>

Now inside our CSS we can use the myDiv class and set the div HTML element tag's height to 100px, its width to 200px and a background color of red. It can be done like this,

.myDiv {
  height: 100px;
  width: 200px;
  background-color: red;
}

Till here we are ok. We have a well-shaped box with a height of 100px and a width of 200px.

Now to understand the problem a little better, let's also add a padding of 20px to the myDiv like this,

.myDiv {
  height: 100px;
  width: 200px;
  background-color: red;
  padding: 20px;
}

Now the div element's height and width are also increased because the padding added 10px to all the four sides of the div element, so now the height of the div becomes 140px and the width becomes 240px which may make styling sometimes a bit tricky and unpredictable.

I have added a small gif to show the problem. This is what will happen to the div element if the padding is added and not added.

So why does this happen?

This is because browsers by default add all the padding, margins, etc to the overall height and width of the element, in our case it is the div HTML element.

By default, the box-sizing CSS property of the element will be set to content-box which causes this unpredictable behavior.

To avoid this issue we can use the box-sizing property and set is value to border-box like this,

.myDiv {
  height: 100px;
  width: 200px;
  background-color: red;
  padding: 20px;
  box-sizing: border-box;
}

Now we will have something where the height and width of the overall div element are not increased but restricted with the defined height and width of the box.

It will look like this,

Which is the result we need! Yay 🎊!

See the above code live in JSBin

That's all! 😃

Feel free to share if you found this useful 😃.


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